Thursday, January 17, 2019

Transformation

In real life, the mass of branches piled with snow is eye-dazzling.
Silently;
The leafless branch of a redbud tree becomes a work of art.
Overnight,
The world transforms into
A delightfully alien landscape.

Every leafless branch
Of every tree
A jagged black line
Highlighted by a broad stroke
Of brilliant white.

The cedar trees accept their burden,
Bowing in reverent prayer.
Snow-laden cedar branches
Bar my way down
Usual paths.

So I take another route,
Ducking under branches,
Going the back way,
Finding new breathtaking scenes.

From each change of perspective
A glorious new scene.
I hold my breath in anticipation,
Round a corner and realize
There is no end to the
Wonders of this Earth.

The world seemed to be in black and white, and every tiny spot of color stood out  like a flashing light, such as the glass gazing globe in the center of this photo. The snow fell overnight on Saturday (today is Thursday). Don't ask why I waited so long to post this. I don't have an answer. Much of this snow is gone now, although not entirely. We're slated to get more snow this weekend. The world is full of wonders. 


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year

As you continue your Journey
I hope you find Joy.
I hope you find Peace.
I hope you find Love.
I hope you find Contentment.
I hope you find Compassion.

I hope you Understand that you will not find these things looking outside yourself.
You can only find them within;
When you offer Joy to others;
Peace to others;
Love to others;
Compassion to others.

Then you will find Contentment.

I hope you find the Strength and Courage
To face all your Challenges and Trials,
Coming through them Whole,
More Complete than before;
Stronger than before;
More Compassionate than before;
More Grateful for what you have.

And if your Strength and Courage
Should fail you,
May you be surrounded by Compassionate
People with open arms waiting to take you in;
And Strong Shoulders allowing you to lean
Until Strength returns.

No Road is without pitfalls.
Yet all journeys allow us to find Beauty
If we know how to See it,
If we know how to Be it.

Stay the Journey.


Friday, December 21, 2018

Happy Solstice

Sunrise on the Winter Solstice 2015.
May Light find you in the depths of your Darkness.
May you arise from Darkness renewed, refreshed, reborn.

Festival of Lights
The Sun appears to stand still on these days surrounding the Solstice. For several days, the Light does not appear to grow. But it does. In the far North, night is 24 hours long on this day. But it turns around quickly up there. This is a Turning Point.

Today the seeds of Summer are sown even though the Earth appears still and dormant. Within the soil Seeds prepare for their Spring transformation; Roots grow until the soil freezes.

As much as we can, let us use this time of Stillness in Nature to bring Stillness into our own lives, during which the Seeds we have planted change and transform so that they may put down roots into earth and stretch up shoots to the light -- all at the proper time. This Stillness in Winter also allows us to put down Roots in spiritual contemplation, in strengthening relationships with friends and family, in Being more who we truly are.

And on this Winter Solstice night we'll see a Full Moon -- double the light.

May you find strength, peace and joy on this Solstice and on any other holiday/holy day you desire to celebrate at this time and any time. May each day in your life be a holy day.

And the Wheel turns.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Beauty is in the Eye...

The structure of this lettuce plant became more apparent as we harvested leaves.
Our front room, which I have recently taken to calling the "Green Room," is filled with life. Green plants, from little sprouts to small trees, sit on shelves and line the walls. Most of these plants spent their summer outside, on the front porch, where they are happy and healthy.

The room, which is rarely used in the summer when it is devoid of green life, has become one of our favorite hangout spots. The plants provide beauty and oxygen. And most of them are food, seasoning or medicine.

The food and medicine plants have ornamental value, as well. Some vegetables have beautiful forms and colors. The Swiss chard's glossy green leaves and white stems and veins add a robust aura to the collection of plants. The lettuces also provided ornamental value. In these photos you can see the beautiful structure of the Batavian-type lettuce plant, even after we'd removed many leaves. Batavian lettuces are, in my opinion, among the most beautiful in form, while others delight with their colors.
Few flowers can exceed the beauty of this Batavian lettuce
plant's architecture.

During a warm day (upper 40s) last week I cut all of my radicchio because I was not confident that they would survive the harsh cold much longer. Two plants did not have heads of a size worth harvesting, but they were in much better shape than some of the other small plants. So I dug them up, pulled off ugly leaves, put them into pots and set them under the lights in my green room. These varieties of radicchio have beautiful colors, and will add additional color and form to my collection of edibles, if they thrive.

Also among the edibles/seasonings are a couple of pots of garlic for harvesting their greens, the chard, a bay tree, two curry leaf trees, dittany of Crete (medicine, tea, seasoning), aloe (medicine), and some little pots in which I've started more Batavian lettuce and Extra Dwarf bok choy, hoping they will reach ornamental and edible proportions. Along with these a number of half flats  contain various microgreens, some of which are brilliantly colored (I'll talk about microgreens in a future post).

Utility can be beautiful. Don't be afraid of growing vegetables in your living room.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Getting Radicle

Watermelon radishes pulled the day before the low hit 10 degrees.
Radishes.

Not exactly at the top of the list of everyone's favorite vegetables.

But don't we all grow them anyway?
They're one of the first vegetables we can plant in the spring, and one of the last we can plant in the fall. They grow quickly and readily -- practically foolproof -- making them a great thing for a kid's garden or any first time gardener.

You can slice them into salads, use slices of large ones to dip out guacamole, carve them into roses as cute little garnishes, and... uh... and... Well you can eat them raw as a spicy snack.

Oh. come on. Can't you come up with anything else?

Radishes provide numerous nutrients -- vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. And they help support the body's detoxification system, so eating radishes can help clear out the toxins you've built up from all of the not-so-good-for-you stuff you've been eating. They are especially good at removing bilirubin from the blood, which is the stuff that builds up when you get jaundice. So I'm presuming they're helpful in keeping your liver healthy.

Like you, I always grow radishes... for salads. I'm not so much into carving radish garnishes. However, in Oaxaca, Mexico, Dec. 23 is Noche de Rabanos -- Night of Radishes, when everyone gets into the act of carving great displays out of radishes. This began more than 120 years ago, when merchants carved radishes as part of their magnificent vegetable displays to attract shoppers on their way home from Christmas services. Now it's tradition.

But carving isn't the only thing you can do with radishes. Why not roast them?
Because you never thought of that... right?

Well I didn't either until recently when someone mentioned roasting radishes, or I read about it somewhere online. Anyway, I tried it and love roasted radishes. It's so easy, too. Just slice, or halve, or quarter the radishes (depending on their size), toss them with a high quality oil -- I recommend avocado oil or good quality extra virgin olive oil. Lay them out in a single layer on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, sprinkle on salt and pepper (you can sprinkle on other seasonings if you like), and roast at 400 degrees for about a half hour, or a few minutes more, turning or stirring halfway through. They're great warm or cold. Make a big batch and heat them up in the toaster oven.

I'll be roasting most of my radishes from now on. Now I am glad that I had such a bumper crop of radishes this fall.

Radishes can be found in many colors and shapes -- red, pink, purple, white, multi-colored, small round, big round, long ones and really long ones. Spring radishes tend to be smaller and mature more quickly. Winter radishes tend to be larger and take just a little longer to mature, although you can harvest them at a "baby" size.

On the left you can see why they're called "Watermelon" radishes, also "Red
Meat" radishes; because of the pink-red centers, the white exterior rings and
green skin. On the right are Cherry Belles, maybe some Crimson Giants.
These are about to be roasted!
I usually grow Cherry Belle, a spring radish, in both spring and fall. Supposedly that's the variety you're most likely to find in the grocery, but mine always carry so much more heat than those I've bought at the store. But roasting -- or cooking them some other way, such as in a stir-fry -- dampens the heat. I also grow Watermelon radishes (a winter radish). They don't reach the size of watermelons, but they do get pretty big. Some sources say that they can reach the sized of a softball -- never seen one that big, but I've seen some slices from some pretty big ones on restaurant plates. I don't think any of mine have quite hit the tennis ball size, but they've gotten much bigger than ping pong balls. I should thin them more diligently. A bit wider spacing would get me bigger radishes.

I also grow daikons -- great big, long, white radishes that you plant in the fall. One year I tried a spring planting and they just kept bolting instead of enlarging their roots.

The green leaves of radishes are edible, as well. I've never been that fond of radish greens, or maybe it's just that I have so many other types of greens available when the radish greens are large and lush, so I've never bothered with them much. But today a sauteed some green onions in ghee (clarified butter), added the chopped radish greens, along with some turnip greens and radicchio, then sprinkled on salt and pepper. When the greens were cooked I added lime juice. Now I wish I'd saved more radish and turnip greens. Maybe the daikons will come through this bitter cold to provide more fresh greens.

Radishes do best in moderately rich soil, with sufficient moisture, and cool weather.

The word "radish" comes from the Latin "radix," meaning "root." So radish is just another word for root. Go figure. Radishes are a prime example of a tap root. Another word derived from radix is "radicle" (no, I didn't misspell "radical" in the title), the first tiny root that emerges from a seed.

This is a great time of year to pick up lots of roots, from radishes to rutabagas, turnips and sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots, even celeriac, burdock, etc. It's a good time of year to get to the root of things.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Rutabaga Moon


This is the top of one of the rutabagas that I pulled last week before the deep freeze.

You see what you see.
I have no apology.

It takes some cheek
To show that kind of freak,

And make bun puns.

(Slinking away...)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Snow Show

I walked out my bedroom door yesterday morning, ready or not to greet the day.

"Wow." I said, finding no other words. "Wow."

Snow had started falling the previous afternoon, picking up its pace as the evening darkened. I knew I would find snow on the ground, but did not anticipate the view that greeted me.

The snow was a wet one. It billowed on the ground where low-growing plants had not yet died back, and clung to tree branches, starkly white against the deep green of the red cedars. It piled on the horizontal wires of fences, and weighted down the white row covers on the low tunnels so they sagged like horses who had borne too many riders,

According to my husband, the sun broke through the clouds the very moment I opened the bedroom door, as if the universe had been waiting to gift me with this view. Almost as if it wanted to make up for the fact that the temperature on our hilltop would drop to a mere 10 degrees Fahrenheit that night.

I forgave the universe (the forecast being for "just" 15 degrees that night) and almost immediately grabbed my camera. I headed outside, with my feet still bare (I didn't go far), to snap some shots before the snow disappeared.

As predicted, the wind arrived shortly after that and I watched snow-laden branches of the cedars begin moving like waves on the sea. I was mesmerized and momentarily considered taking a video. But photos and videos never capture the true magic in a moment, only memories can. So I stayed in my chair and watched. Then the wind rose higher and began shaking snow from the branches. Today, hardly a flake of snow is left.

I will wait a few days before checking to see if all the blankets, hay and other coverings saved the cabbages and kale and lettuce from death by freezing. We harvested some stuff during the days before the deep freeze, lettuce, rutabaga greens, bok choy, radishes and kale -- just in case. I opened one little tunnel with the intent of just letting most of it go -- but the turnips were so beautiful that I pulled them all, salvaging a couple dozen or more baby turnips the size of my thumb or larger. I saved a few of the turnip greens, too. I'm not that fond of turnips, either root or green, but I like them well enough to eat a few, for the diversity. And when something is that beautiful I can't just let it go.

So, did three days effort (when I wasn't feeling well mind you) save my cabbages and rutabagas, or was it all in vain? Regardless, it was worth the effort. At least I tried. I made the effort. I've done other things in my life that did not come to fruit, but I'm satisfied in that I made an attempt. And so, after I'd spent time laying blankets and scattering fluffy piles of hay, it did not matter so much what the aftermath will look like. I felt better both mentally and physically having done the work. That is enough.